The world’s 10 fastest trains!

Τρένο Shanghai Maglev, China

Τρένο Shanghai Maglev, Κίνα

Operating speed: 430 km/h

Record speed: 500 km/h

Date commissioned: 2003

Departing from Shanghai’s Longyang Road Station, the world’s fastest commercial train is also the only magnetic levitation specimen on our list. With a maximum operating speed at 430 km/h, it is faster than any racing car. Those interested in learning more about the technology can pop into the Maglev Museum at Longyang station (admission is free with a Maglev ticket).

CRH380, China

CRH380, Κίνα

Operating speed: 350 km/h

Record speed: 487 km/h

Date commissioned: 2010

From a starting point of zero, China has accelerated to develop the world’s largest and busiest high-speed rail network in less than a decade. Its high-speed network of approximately 10,000 km carries almost half a billion passengers a year. The CRH380 is capable of running at a maximum of 380 km/h on high-speed lines. Its four itineraries serve Beijing, Shanghai and the cities of Guangzhou, Wuhan, Nanjing and Hangzhou.

ICE 3, Germany

ICE 3, Γερμανία

Operating speed: 320 km/h

Record speed: 368 km/h

Date commissioned: 2000

While Germany makes many of the world’s fastest trains, the launch of its own high-speed rail was delayed a decade by legal battles with environmentalists and other groups. But the Germans are making up ground fast. The super-swift InterCity Express (ICE3) currently runs between Frankfurt and Cologne in the Rhine Valley and Munich and Nuremberg in Bavaria, with nine more high-speed lines under construction or on the drawing board.

Shinkansen E5, Japan

Shinkansen E5, Ιαπωνία

Operating speed: 320 km/h

Record speed: 358 km/h

Date commissioned: 2011

Japan’s famous bullet trains come in many different shapes and styles, none faster than the new Shinkansen E5. Nicknamed the Duck-Billed Platypus because of its distinctive nose, the sleek train serves the 675 km route between Tokyo and Aomori at the northern end of Honshu Island. The E5 also features some of the industry’s poshest interiors.

TGV POS, France

TGV POS, Γαλλία

Operating speed: 320 km/h

Record speed: 574 km/h

Date commissioned: 2008

One of the first nations to leap onto the high-speed bandwagon, France introduced its revolutionary Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) in 1981. There have been numerous upgrades since then, most recently the speedy POS, a hybrid of existing TGV Réseau passenger carriages with brand-new Alstom locomotives. The train operates on two lines – LGV Rhin-Rhône in eastern France and LGV Est between Paris and Strasbourg – with more lines on the way. The POS set a world speed record for travel on conventional rails of 574.86 km/h during test runs in 2007.

AVE 103 Series, Spain

Σειρά AVE 103, Ισπανία

Operating speed: 310 km/h

Record speed: 402 km/h

Date commissioned: 2006

Spain’s Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) service is known for its Talgo trains and their particular appearance. But even faster are the new Siemens Velaro Series 103 units that race between Barcelona and Madrid in two hours and 38 minutes. Over the past two decades, Spain has transformed its rail service from one of Western Europe’s slowest and least efficient into the continent’s largest high-speed network, spanning 3,057 km and nearly every major Spanish city.

Sancheon (KTX2), South Korea

Sancheon (KTX2), Νότια Κορέα

Operating speed: 305 km/h

Record speed: 350 km/h

Date commissioned: 2010

Korail’s high-speed Sancheon trains make the trip between Seoul and the southern port cities of Busan and Mokpo in less than three hours.  Manufactured by Hyundai, the trains take nearly seven minutes to accelerate from zero to 305 km per hour but need just 1.2 minutes to come to a complete stop. And they’ve got competition: the KTX3 will have a maximum speed of 402 km/h when it debuts in 2015.

ETR 500 Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) and ETR 575 AGV, Italy

ETR 500 Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) και ETR 575 AGV, Iταλία

Operating speed: 300 km/h

Record speed: 340 km/h (Red Arrow), 360 km/h (AGV)

Date commissioned: 2008 (Red Arrow), 2012 (AGV)

Italy offers two competing high-speed rail services—the public Red Arrow and the private Automotrice à Grande Vitesse (AGV)—on the same tracks. The trains already connect the cities of Turin, Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice. A new line between Venice and Milan is under construction. The next-generation ETR 1000 (running at 354 km/h) will overtake them by the end of 2014.

Eurostar Class 373, UK, France, Belgium

Eurostar Class 373, Βρετανία, Γαλλία, Βέλγιο

Operating speed: 300 km/h

Record speed: 334 km/h

Date commissioned: 1993

Thinking of flying from London to Paris? Think again: the Eurostar makes this trip in two hours and 16 minutes, with no airport security hassles. The longest and fastest train in regular service in the British Isles, the Class 373 operates via the Channel Tunnel between three beautiful train stations: London’s restored St. Pancras Station, the Gare du Nord in Paris, and South Station in Brussels. The train stops also at Disneyland Paris and there are seasonal routes to Avignon and the French Alps.  Italian design firm Pininfarina is currently updating the interiors of all 373s.

THSR 700T, Taiwan

THSR 700T, Tαϊβάν

Operating speed: 300 km/h

Record speed: 315 km/h

Date commissioned: 2007

The aerodynamically optimised trains of Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) rocket down the island’s west coast between the capital, Taipei, and the industrial city of Kaohsiung in 90 to 100 minutes.